Shedding the chrome-cast cliché of futuristic style, many designers have turned to creating modern products from natural materials. A mix of high-tech techniques with artisan hand-craft has resulted in creative twists ranging from leather iPhone backs to flax bicycles. Always a medium for innovation, eyeglass frames have seen an explosion of materials both simple and complex. There's something wonderfully tactile with wood frames, and recent designs by Drift to Shwood offer great style at a reasonable price. A recent discovery, Herrlicht's hand made wood frames have upped the ante, defining the epitome of craftsmanship in wood eyeglass frames.
Advancing the accessory beyond novelty, Berlin-based designer Andreas Licht spends about a week handcrafting each pair of eyeglasses—from the lens holder to the signature four-pronged pin that enables the ease of swapping out lenses. Sculpted from several thin layers of wood and assembled using Japanese joinery techniques, the Herrlicht collection comes in maple, cherry, walnut or fumed oak in a variety of retro-inspired styles—every element of these frames (including the screws!) is made from wood. Quite durable, the frames have a slight flexibility and light weight that make them effortless to wear.
Presented in a handmade cylindrical wood case stylized after a seed pod, Licht underscores his attention to detail and distinct environmental influences; a mark that has earned him the SILMO 2011 award for excellence. As a skilled woodworker—previously working with wooden bicycles and furniture—Andreas cuts, sands and polishes each wood layer. Due to the labor-intensive integrity of the process, the Herrlicht line produces only 200 to 250 pairs of each model every year.
Due to the high demand and limited run of the collection Herrlicht is exclusively sold at 1010 Optics in New York City and Brillenschneiderei Yves in Berlin. Each pair is pressed to indicate style, wood-type and serial number. Prices start at $1,500.